Didsburydad's Blog

From the not so mean streets of M20, blog about being a dad, Didsbury and dealing with parental confusion

Archive for the category “Christmas”

How I learned the way of the Gorilla.

Fathers Day I was woken by the sound of muffled voices, shuffling feet and a click as the door closed. Then, silence. I tried to come around to the day. My throat was dry and the detritus of a night that had extended way too far into the morning surrounded me. Beakers, a pull-up, a chewed through dummy and the crumbs of a rusk. Man I felt rough.

  For dads who have lost the will to live – this is for you.

Then I noticed something else. It was still quiet. The smell of freshly brewed coffee snaked its way upstairs alongside the unmissable note that belonged to three words that are so personal in their interpretation; Full English Breakfast.
   The breakfast of champions

I pinched myself to check I was awake. The house was quiet and on the table were a coffee pot and mug, cutlery and two notes. I poured a coffee, luxuriating in a first drink of the day that came hot and without the aroma of potty training.

  
The note read “Happy Fathers Day. Didsbury Son is out all day and I’ve taken The Mighty Headed Boy and Pearly Princess to a three hour crèche sesh. Your breakfast is in the oven. Read note 2 afterwards. Didsbury Wife x”

If music be the food of love then good food is music to my love and after a fabulous Full English I risked note 2. This guided me to the living room, some cards and a three-hour video of 80s football.

I padded to the couch. I flicked on the TV and drifted off to the sound of The Smiths and a procession of manly mullets and Ellesse trainers.
The pressure in my chest increased, there seemed to be something on top of me. I felt the density of the air change and then came the noise. I was still in bed. The Mighty Headed boy was sitting on me. I opened my eyes, pinched myself and realised that now I was actually awake and my mind had a played a cruel trick as three more words snapped across the room, “Daddy. Wee. Now.”

The Joy of Potty Training Twins

As a liberal lefty-leaning metropolitan kind of dad with a clear handle on the difference between ristretto and macchiato, but without a tool belt I know a thing or two about the theory of things. I am an expert on what you should do, but like most my theory is stronger than my practical. (That’s an exam time reference. Remember if you are doing GCSE English that LOL and GR8 are not titles and do not need capitalisation).

Anyway, I digress. I live in a house with self-help books a plenty, although my pitch for a book titled “How to give the impression you’re more organised than you are and NOT lie awake at night worrying about getting found out.” didn’t quite make it. On various shelves, in other people’s houses over various years I have seen “The Gift of Dyslexia”, “Embrace Your Inner Awkward”, “Failure is the new Success” and the ludicrous “There are more important things than football” but amongst the slew of gurus from Gina Ford to Juicing Jason, the life coaches and the charlatans no one has ever written,
“The Joy of Potty Training Twins” (or what can you do with 20 pairs of pants, a mop, a bucket and a forest of kitchen roll.)
Your world shrinks to a room and two plastic potties (or is it pottii). We played tag going out for an hour. Any errand was embraced as a much loved friend. There is something Big Brother vs Waterworld about the whole experience.
duggee pic
(Hey Duggee is 6 minutes and 55 seconds long which allows perfect on and off potty timing when you get so bored you could count milk stains)

Halfway through Day One the jigsaw and floor were both wet and the laundry basket was full of Peppa Pig and Roary the Racing Car embossed pants gurning wet grins up at us; the potty was dry. The bribe barrel was empty and we were knackered.
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The original title was Men Are From Mars because they wouldn’t stop to ask directions, Women are from Venus because they were talking and took the wrong turn.)

Didsbury Wife’s preparation was so thorough there were no glitches and when… after many wet wolf cries we got a result the joy all around was genuine. We broke out the Dora the Explorer “We did it.” dance, the stickers, chocolate buttons and the boddlers spent the rest of the day trying to remember which bit of jumping, sitting and weeing won them the prizes and the praise.

This joy made me think about the pleasure this brings to all. This morning the Mighty Headed boy fairly ran downstairs desperate to ditch the diaper and dance on the potty and I realised the true “joy of potty training twins” is that I’m writing this on the way to work and don’t have to do it today…

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The original front cover shot for “Use Your Body to heal your Mind” was subtitled “Sod it a cocktail in the sun solves most things.”

Wordy Rappinghood – why it matters

Words I love and hate.

I was in a queue at a supermarket last week. Let’s not name names, let’s call it Smooths at MediaCityYouK. There was a nice woman standing behind me with two small children. The little one, who looked about thee was getting fractious so I did a little gooning about and we all made friends. The man behind the checkout joined in, uninvited. Apparently he too had a “Threenager”. I stopped. The woman looked slightly embarrassed as we wondered whether to
A) ignore the naffness and move on
B) stab him with the kabanos I held in my hand.
C) go to Morissons across the road.
Threenager? Threenager! Threef#^*ingnager. Threenager is right down there with Terrible Twos, 4 year old girls wearing t-shirts that proclaim “Porn Star” on the front, Keep Calm and Carry on Zumba and shops proclaiming themselves “Krazee” or offering “Kutz”.
This is dangerous territory. Not only is our language too beautiful to throw away like this (you repeat Red Lorry Yellow Lorry after a night on the Calpol and tell me I’m wrong), but we continue to create this theme park expectation.
Didsbury Son is 13. He is still the lovely boy he has always been, but he has chemical surges that are part of the often awkward growing trajectory. We all had/have days as teenagers when the world is against all goes wrong. There are times when we both glare, glower and wonder at each other’s stupidity. The moments may be difficult but they are natural and it is the expectation to behave like a grown toddler that is a self-fulfilling prophesy. I know some lovely teenagers. I know some for whom my best intentions fall well below humanity. They are not like that just because they are teens. 
What are the terrible twos? At 2 the world is a huge playground/fridge that revolves only around you. You are the stars, the moon, the sun and heir (the temptation to go into Smiths lyrics here is almost unbearable) to a oneness that is overwhelming. Between the daily dose of kisses, hugs and moments of joy is/are your child(ren)’s introduction to negotiation. If you have not had to witness UKIP’s abysmal rise, never chewed your nails through the last month of a Premier League season, lost a person close to you or been dumped then of course whether or not you get a biscuit is worthy of tears. 
So the twos are not terrible. They stretch your joints, your patience and your ability to watch the same programme over and over BUT… They only last 52 weeks and I have a feeling that I will miss the babbling, utter adoration and openness that typify this year. 
So there is my ten pence worth. Cliches and Platitudes are not described that way as a compliment; however tiring or frustrating a teenage/toddler tantrum is they are part of the furniture and once they are through this the opportunities to eat fish fingers and buy plastic tat are gone forever and that is testing. 

One Down Dog You don’t come up from quickly

So there I was, flat on my back. It was dark and I was on the floor. My left hand stretched through the bars and held a pudgy, squidgy hand. My right arm stretched backwards over my head through another set of bars to another hand. I heard myself singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and humming songs, to which I only know derogatory football-related lyrics and for five minutes I was in heaven. My sciatic nerve was stretching, I was off homework duty and the football had not quite kicked off. 

Then it hit me. This quasi-crucifix position on my not quite Athletic, post post 39 body is a disaster in waiting. As my stretched right arm began to quiver and a searing pain munched its way up and down it, I came to two age-related realisations;
1. It is now 30 months since the twins were born and I was last pain free. These babies, now full-volume, negotiating toddlers are a gift – but one which pulls every joint, vertebrae and limb in a daily dance designed to test (and find weaknesses). I am now 18% cortisone and Boots’ pharmacy greet me like bartenders and ask “the usual, sir?”.
2. I have no idea how to move. It’s a bit cold and I’ve been lying flat on the floor now for 40 minutes; any hope of graceful transition to vertical disappeared 37 minutes ago. 
All of this is a drop in a choppy ocean compared to the payback a cuddle and an I Love You bring from a grinning two-year old holding open your eyelid and then adding “Wake Up Daddy, Dora on TV?”
But… For those waiting to be Didsbury or other Dads beware – there is a floor waiting for your back and the football will be over by the time you get downstairs. 

 

Next Up… Hairdressers are so passé, it’s Dog Grooming Didsbury from now on. 

Elvis Presley, Bisou Bisou, Muhammed Ali and Sweaty Betty’s

“There are contenders, there are pretenders, but there is only one king. Bruce Springsteen said this about Elvis Presley and Muhammed Ali gave life to a version of this pre-fights.
This came into my head as I walked past the shell that was once Wilkinsons and wondered who will mend the toasters of the Didsbury cognoscenti, too pre-occupied with memorising the words to Frozen whilst wondering if Marc Warner is now passé. There are rumblings in the venue formerly known as “Sweaty Betty’s” but more of that next time.

Wilkinson’s was so last century it passed beyond retro and in its retirement has achieved eulogising status.

So have the pistachio biscuits in Bisou Bisou. The Bisou twins are a civilising force in the village. The layout is so neat, the staff so friendly (ruining French stereotypes in an instant) that even the schoolchildren queuing pre-school regardé et ecouté as though they had found something relevant in a lesson. They will never replace Cafe Rouge in our hearts – for at least another week..
So as the first snowdrops poke their little purple and white heads above the parapet and the eight tulips that have survived the winter fight with plastic toys in our back “garden” to survive through to have the twins rip off their petals here are five clear clues that spring will be coming to Didsbury soon.i

1. Every shop’s cold storage area is stuffed with single roses they hope will last until Mothers Day.

2. The pram and trolley stop outside the Co-Op in the village is being swept ready for the two tables to be displayed, but only used by people waiting for s bus.

3. A quick look at the menu in Costa or Nero reveals some bizarre non-Coffee fruit shoot that will be priced at more than a meal for four in Marks & Spencers

4. There is a schizophrenia on the shelves around the village as Creme Eggs fight for space with bizarre Lego cars in the Shell garage, Easter Eggs and chocolate hearts being scraped of their Love Hearts messages and being prepped for maternal adoration.

5. The week is all Shrove this, Ash that, Simnel the other. I have no idea what a shrove is, but if Bisou Bisou start making them I’m in.

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The New Ikea Family Car does not look promising.

2015/02/img_0520.jpg Didsbury looks great in summer

Elvis Presley, Bisou Bisou, Muhammed Ali and Sweaty Betty’s

“There are contenders, there are pretenders, but there is only one king. Bruce Springsteen said this about Elvis Presley and Muhammed Ali gave life to a version of this pre-fights.
This came into my head as I walked past the shell that was once Wilkinsons and wondered who will mend the toasters of the Didsbury cognoscenti, too pre-occupied with memorising the words to Frozen whilst wondering if Marc Warner is now passé. There are rumblings in the venue formerly known as “Sweaty Betty’s” but more of that next time.

Wilkinson’s was so last century it passed beyond retro and in its retirement has achieved eulogising status.

So have the pistachio biscuits in Bisou Bisou. The Bisou twins are a civilising force in the village. The layout is so neat, the staff so friendly (ruining French stereotypes in an instant) that even the schoolchildren queuing pre-school regardé et ecouté as though they had found something relevant in a lesson. They will never replace Cafe Rouge in our hearts – for at least another week..
So as the first snowdrops poke their little purple and white heads above the parapet and the eight tulips that have survived the winter fight with plastic toys in our back “garden” to survive through to have the twins rip off their petals here are five clear clues that spring will be coming to Didsbury soon.i

1. Every shop’s cold storage area is stuffed with single roses they hope will last until Mothers Day.

2. The pram and trolley stop outside the Co-Op in the village is being swept ready for the two tables to be displayed, but only used by people waiting for s bus.

3. A quick look at the menu in Costa or Nero reveals some bizarre non-Coffee fruit shoot that will be priced at more than a meal for four in Marks & Spencers

4. There is a schizophrenia on the shelves around the village as Creme Eggs fight for space with bizarre Lego cars in the Shell garage, Easter Eggs and chocolate hearts being scraped of their Love Hearts messages and being prepped for maternal adoration.

5. The week is all Shrove this, Ash that, Simnel the other. I have no idea what a shrove is, but if Bisou Bisou start making them I’m in.

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The New Ikea Family Car does not look promising.

2015/02/img_0520.jpg Didsbury looks great in summer

Fitbit, focus groups and the best coffee this side of Mars,

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. The men had been meaning to move to Venus for ages but y’know what it’s like. They got friendly with a couple of Martians, the deli on the corner just knew how they liked the coffee and although the roof leaked, the plumbing was teenage in its temperamentally challenging behaviour, the car got robbed and the carpet was pre-war it was home and they quite liked the landlord. Why move when it could be worse.

It was only when the women told them about the new sports bars opening up across Venus and refused to even drive through Mars, let alone stay over that the men moved. (Excerpt from “Why most men don’t move, they can’t be bothered”). This is one more reason why I don’t like Focus Groups. You can’t get a decent coffee and bagel in Venus.

Henry Ford (car genius, moral leper) once said (approximately). “If I’d asked the public what they wanted they would have said “faster horses” when asked how he came up with that monstrous micro mess the Ford Ka. I was recently asked to be on a focus group for a new “family friendly” museum and gallery. Family friendly to most dads means no gift shop, free couches and nothing on sale in the cafe over £2.50. This session followed a night when, according to my Fitbit. I slept for 4 hours, 20 mins and was awake 7 times and restless many more between 11.06pm ( Peppa Pig’s Holiday App finally sees off Mighty Headed Boy) and 6.08pm (Sago Mini Pet Cafe buys me 17 minutes of zzzzzzz) when Princess Blondini jabs me in the eye shouting “wake up daddy, moon up.”.
We were asked to consider the facilities a 21st century museum should provide the modern family. My tips were:
1. A car park whose distance is far enough away to make the walk back for whatever vital toy that was left there long enough to speak to friends, check football scores and clear head.

2. No wifi. I love Didsbury Son and long to see the front of his face, not just the top of his hood.

3. A slouching post near the baby change table.

4. A prayer room. I make use of these wherever I can. They are the one place you can be sure no one will bother you.

5. Less interactivity. It sets the bar too high for your own domestic masterclass in multi-tasking ( playing with children whilst watching Sky Sports News).

If they take these ideas on board, don’t thank me – just take the kids out for a couple of hours one weekend morning.

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£2.49

2015, More of the Same from Didsbury Dad

Apologies for being blogless. It’s a terrible thing when work and life get in the way of you writing reams of blah from the single in the nursery that the Mighty Headed Boy now calls “Our Bed” after a Christmas holiday spent edging me out of it.

Normal service will return in about a week but in the week when the retirement sale sign at Wilkinsons brought a lump to the throat. In the week when Emmanuel’s prayer group requested a Waitrose where Cafe Rouge once was. In a week when Gentry Grooming’s management buyout brought independence in the village whilst one of West Didsbury’s last remaining non-bohemian stores, Loft announced it was closing…

Five things I learned:
1. Watching toddler twins in the morning is akin to refereeing a corner in the Premier League. Finding out who began the pulling, dummy stealing and Peppa Pig invocation is impossible.

2. At 39 and 12 months + a few more 12s you can party or parent. Both leaves you looking like Stig (of the dump not Top Gear).

3. You can learn the words to every Frozen song through Osmosis.

4. Life is good. When the news on TV becomes almost too difficult to watch, having someone next to you whose world is complete with a soft toy and a cuddle is a real gift.

5. Four is enough for now.

Happy New Year

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Wilkinsons – who will fix our objects now?

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Peppa Pig glasses: I am praying they have better vision than me

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If you don’t know who this is, I salute you

It’s A Wonderful Life

Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, like a huge, gigantic Turkey serving yet another meal. Like the waft that hangs around you after a McDonalds meal, like the things that you will find in the windmills of your mind (with thanks to Noel Harrison). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEhS9Y9HYjU

There is an episode of The Simpsons where Homer gets hallucinatory food poisoning from the world record beating hoagie he has brought home from the company picnic. As he lies in bed in agony he holds the mouldy and festering sandwich close to his face and whispers lovingly, ” but how can I be angry with you?” I feel the same about our new pet this year. It gave us so much joy on Christmas Day and now, on the third day of Christmas its asymmetrical remnants taunt me to crank up the Delia one more time for a fricassee, omelette or some other spurious Turkey-based fiasco. How can I refuse? Jerk Turkey or bust.

This year’s Christmas Day was an unqualified success. Most of the visits had been done and our only visitors were welcome and unphased by the sheer exuberance and detritus that twin boddlers, a teenager and a bottle of Lanson can leave. This is the last year we can get away with doing what we want until the twins are into double figures. The family side is easy. My lot are Jewish, popped in to try the turkey and sloped off quickly back to the warmth of not being bothered. Most other relatives, already child-rich and time-poor got it out of the way early and Didsbury Son, flicking an imaginary Perry as though he is Phil Oakey 1983 is happy to feign disinterest and lie-in.

There had been a little negotiation. The Mighty-Headed boy is nothing if not cautious. His sister embraced the season and expected FC to bring her a reindeer. For the slightly worried 2 year old, the idea of a stranger coming down the chimney is scary, verging on the too scary. Luckily Didsbury Wife knows Father Christmas and he agreed to drop the presents a few doors down so we could pick them up from there. With the deal struck we moved on.

I must admit to being a bit wary at Christmas. I never understood all the stress and expectation – especially from the faithless. My lot seemed easy. No personal relationship with anyone to be Jewish. Just be part of the tribe and remember the tenets of all our festivals lie in… They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat.

I like the idea of goodwill to all regardless of who they support. The celebration of birth, re-birth, the seasons, the sun – all good. There is something for everyone. I’m not sure Turkey still qualifies as a low-fat super food once it’s had a pound of butter and a pound of streaky slathered over it, but I like Christmas Day. This year I loved it.

Thanks to Peppa, Frozen and the inventor of jigsaws there were only winners. The sheer joy and unrestrained whooping that was the soundtrack to our morning rubbed off on Didsbury Son. He emerged from his hood and joined the party.

We played games, ate and drank, went to the park and counted our blessings at the jackpots we had won to be this lucky. The miracle of Christmas, not one crossed word, not one inappropriate present – It may never happen again. When it does it is wonderful in the fullest sense.

Didsbury Dad Guide to London

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single footstep. Our journey of 200ish began with the low-level restraint only packing a car with three children, two adults and 20 bags the day after rich food, quality booze and general indulgence can bring. A real journey begins with a coffee. Bisou Bisou and Fusion let me down but thankfully Didsbury Village has around 20 outlets (excluding restaurants) with coffee and this Boxing Day morning the Costa machine at the Shell Garage did a mean White Americano.

Christmas Day was a huge success at Didsbury Dad Towers (more in the next blog). From the Mighty Headed Boy and The Pearly-Topped Girl’s lie-in, to Didsbury Son’s charm, through a smoothie breakfast, a turkey so moist we clapped, to presents well-received. So a Boxing Day Drive with a car full had all the ingredients for disaster.

We were an hour late leaving. Didsbury Son was having angst about the brand of the latest electronic device in his collection. The twins were not tired. A slight hangover combined with the effect of sprouts, cheese and champagne on a system fuelled by Oemeprozole could seriously test the air conditioning.

Four amazingly tension-free hours later we arrived in London. For those who don’t know it, London’s a big city in need of a wash, with a lot of people. The water doesn’t taste very nice, but it has a wide selection of Nando’s and its North West has enough ex-pat Mancunians to iron out some of its flaws.

So for Boxing Day and the rest of the Christmas holidays a guide from a world traveller to the 5 must dos on any trip to the home of David Cameron, Wormwood Scrubs and Jellied Eels. London has some magnificent attractions, make the most of any visit.
1. Lock your doors.
2. Whether it’s sterimar, olbas oil
Or a Vicks inhaler do not worry about the grime you will inhale – just be prepared.
3. Try the Underground. Not only is it impressively claustrophobic, but Euston, with trains to Manchester every 20 minutes is easily accessible.
4. Remember what a pain it is driving everywhere. It makes rush hour on Barlow Moor Road seem a breeze.
5. Speak to the locals. Even though they think Rosy Lea is a drink and you can climb apples and pears, it’s not an ism, it’s London Rhyming-Slang and is hilarious and unique.
6. Don’t be parochial.

Tomorrow: the first sentient Christmas Day with the twins – whoops, games and a guide to a happy day.

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The Mighty-Headed boy cruises the streets of London looking for snacks.

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To be honest, the Natural History Museum was a little disappointing.

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